"Yes, I believe that the name is a euphemism for manure."
See, it really is different on the west side.
The above quote comes from Todd Delahanty, when asked about the namesake for the bar he owns. Meadow Muffins (2432 W. Colorado Ave., 633-0583) has been a staple of downtown Old Colorado City since it opened its doors in 1979, and today amid the old Hollywood props you'll find lively crowds on football Sundays, open mics and the occasional pole dancing contest.
Meanwhile, just across the street comes another "you won't find this anywhere else": Thunder & Buttons II (2415 W. Colorado Ave., thunderandbuttons.com) is named for a pair of local elk from the 1880s. It features Wednesday $5 pitchers of the High Life and three nights of Crazy Tony's karaoke craziness.
The west-side dive-bar title probably belongs to Benny's Restaurant & Lounge (517 W. Colorado Ave., 634-9309). Satisfying bar food, cheap pours and a great range of musical acts bring to life this straight-from-a-movie locale. As Yelp commenter Damien B puts it: "Sit back and enjoy the show."
You can do the same, over ribs or a buffalo burger, at Front Range Barbeque (2330 W. Colorado Ave., frbbq.com) on Wednesday or Saturday evenings. That's when live bands, including touring acts, play the homey venue. It's tough to beat a summer show on FRBBQ's patio.
Next door, you'll find another outlet for an artistic night out. At the Cucuru Gallery Cafe (2332 W. Colorado Ave., cucuru.santuario.com), you're going to meet an eclectic, engaging clientele in an intimate setting that often features jazz, blues and even some crooning.
Along similar lines comes the more-than-hip Motif (2432 W. Cucharras St., motifwest.com). Tucked off the main strip, with a welcoming patio and chic decor, it's the ideal spot to hang out with a well-heeled crowd and enjoy an evening of some of the region's best jazz acts.
Staying with the highbrow theme, we've got a couple welcoming Manitou offerings for wine aficionados.
Swirl Wine Bar (717 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, swirlwineemporium.com) provides a meticulously curated menu in a chic, comfy setting, with a charming courtyard in the back for evenings of long conversation.
Mona's Wine Cellar (733 Manitou Ave., monalisafondue.com) has an impressive wine selection, and a food menu featuring tempting cheese fondue entrees and chocolate fondue desserts.
Looking up the road, people have at some point walked up to the foot of Barr Trail and thought to themselves, "You know, maybe I'd rather have a beer." If so, they've probably wound up in Kinfolks Mountain Shop (950 Manitou Ave., kinfolksmanitou.com), just your average outdoor-store-with-a-craft-beer-stocked bar. Or they've gone to the Townhouse Lounge (907 Manitou Ave., thetownhouselounge.com), where the colorful exterior is rivaled only by the colorful clientele.
A little farther west you find the Ancient Mariner (962 Manitou Ave., hmsancientmariner.net), an odd choice of a name for a bar so far from the sea. Rest assured, they've completely committed to the theme.
Now, heading up U.S. Highway 24, there's the Silver Tongue Devil Saloon (10530 Ute Pass Ave., thesilvertonguedevil.com), Green Mountain Falls' pick for touring rock bands and excellent gourmet pizzas made with homemade dough. The Crystola Roadhouse (20918 U.S. Hwy. 24, Woodland Park, 687-7879) is another solid music venue with a steady supply of touring blues acts.
Buck's Mountain Saloon & Grill (116 W. Midland Ave., Woodland Park, 686-1212) is a bar that knows its clientele. Neon beer signs are the decorating motif for a no-pretense watering hole offering a good, boozy time.
Meanwhile, the people behind BierWerks Brewery (121 E. Midland Ave., Woodland Park, bierwerks.com) know their beer. From the apple cider aplfelbier to the black lager schwarzbier, brewmaster James McGraw crafts top-notch Bavarian and German creations.
Finally, Ute Inn (204 W. Midland Ave., Woodland Park, uteinn.com) recalls an old Western saloon, just with wood paneling and a strong mountain-pride vibe. Friday nights feature live musical acts, and every Wednesday there's an open mic.